Would you like tap, still, sparkling, mineral or natural mineral water with that? Accredited sports dietitian Rebecca Hay asks when is a glass of water not a glass of water?


There is much discussion about how we should get our “water,” so I thought I would look at a couple of the available options, what they contain and any health implications they may have. 

The water section in the supermarket displays more than just still water in bottles. There is still water, still mineral water, spring water, sparkling mineral water, sparkling natural mineral water, and more! Most of the shelves are stocked with soda water and natural mineral waters.

First though, just what exactly are the differences between soda water and sparkling natural mineral water?

Soda Water is water with carbon dioxide gas dissolved into it. Some have additives such as sodium chloride (salt), sodium bicarbonate, sodium citrate, potassium citrate, potassium sulfate or similar. What additives are included depends on the bottling company. If you are making your own soda water with a sparkling water maker (e.g. soda stream, soda king etc) you are just adding carbon dioxide gas to tap water.

Natural Mineral Water contains dissolved gasses, minerals and sulfur compounds. These give the mineral water its fizz and distinctive tastes. Natural mineral waters are usually bottled at their source and then distributed for consumption. Some mineral waters are manufactured so check the label for this information.

Most mineral and soda waters are not high in sodium. If you are worried about your sodium intake please check the label on the bottle. Most mineral waters have approximately 10mg of sodium per 100ml. This is a low level.

So what effects do these different waters have on our bones, digestive system and dental health?

Bone health – There does not seem to be any issue with sparkling water and bone health. Once you add sugar, caffeine and phosphoric acid to the water there seems to be a detrimental effect.

Digestive Health – Drinking a sparkling water quickly might make you feel bloated but are there any other dangers? Not really! In fact that feeling of “fullness” could be used in a beneficial way.

A group of researchers in Japan found that drinking a glass of sparkling water slowly actually lead to an increased feeling of fullness. So it could be used as a tool for increasing feelings of fullness around meals.Of course if the bubbles make you uncomfortable go for a still water.

Dental Health – Sparkling waters are slightly more acidic than still water. Their level of acidity is similar to that of coffee or tea. So potentially they could have an effect on the quality of tooth enamel. Our saliva, which is a natural buffer may completely negate this effect so there may be very little to worry about.


Based on the above a sensible recommendation would be to use still water in between meals or overnight and if you like the bubbles have with meals. Whether it is a soda water or a sparkling mineral water it is a matter of taste. Me?…I choose to fill my drink bottle or glass with tap water.